Weekly Discoveries 02.27.2015 – Ready Player One and Midori Traveler’s Notebooks


Ready Player One

This little surprise showed up in my Loot Crate this month. Although I haven’t gotten a chance to start this yet, I’m a huge fan of anything that deals with gaming and/or Science fiction and this book has both!  The premise is basic enough to start, Teenager Wade Watts escapes reality by adventuring in a virtual utopia called the Oasis. Looking forward to checking this one out!

 Ready Player One

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Midori Traveler’s Notebook (Refill 002)

Last week, I was raving about my new Bellroy wallet. The wallet has a spot for your passport, but I don’t do much international traveling, so I looked for other uses for its remarkably-sized pocket. My hope was that a Field Notes memo book would be able to squeeze in, but those hopes were quickly thwarted by about two-millimeters. Enter the Midori Traveler’s Notebook. More specifically, enter the Midori Traveler’s Notebook Refill 002. This simple memo book is exactly the same size as a passport, so it fits perfectly inside my wallet. Refill 002 features graph paper, but it is also available in other paper styles (including a date book!). I carry notebooks with me everywhere I go, but I know this is going to come in clutch when I don’t have my Slate handy.

Midori Traveler Notebook

Weekly Discoveries 02.20.2015 – Bradley Mountain Adventure Logs & Bellroy Wallets


Bellroy Wallets

I have what is commonly referred to as “a Costanza,” a wallet so large, it causes back pain. I don’t know how it happened, or when my wallet reached its critical mass, but it did. Thankfully, my wonderful wife recognized my plight, and bought me a Bellroy wallet for my birthday. I’ve known about Bellroy wallets for a while now (they exhibit at the Capsule Show we do each year), but that’s the true horror of the Costanza: you don’t actually realize you have one until it’s been replaced. The model she bought me is the Travel Wallet, which comes loaded with a pen and a passport-sized notebook. Even with the pen and notebook, my new wallet is less than half the size of my old one.

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Bradley Mountain Adventure Logs

Earlier this week we were at the Capsule Show in Las Vegas. It’s always a great time with great people who make equally great products, which brings me to the Adventure Log notebooks by Bradley Mountain. Anybody can make a pocket notebook, but the good ones stand out through unique formatting, and that’s exactly what we have here. The Adventure Log is built to cleanly document your adventures wherever they may be.  Each page has a section for the location, date, companions, weather conditions and a space at the bottom where the user can go into detail about said adventures. Now, I’m no rugged outdoorsman chronicling mountains I’ve climbed or pitfalls I’ve escaped, but with the recent release of Monster Hunter 4 for the Nintendo 3DS I’ve come up with some clever and fun ways to utilize mine.

adventure log

Clive Thompson on the Typing vs. Writing Debate

“Type as quickly as you can, and always carry a pencil.”

We’ve weighed in on the struggle between typing and handwriting before. We found research that showed how handwriting was better for retaining information. We also showed the reasons why writers are better off writing by hand.

When we watched digital writer Clive Thompson give a keynote speech for INBOUND on the debate, we knew we had to chronicle his arguments. Clive gives a ten-minute speech about typing versus writing, at the end of which, he declares no clear winner.

Writing Helps Us With Our Notes

Thompson kind of echoes our sentiments – when it comes to taking note taking, he argues, handwriting wins. He cited the same study, concluding that note typists don’t retain as much information as note writers. Using his own notes as an example, he vouched for taking notes by hand, as well as for doodling, a practice we’ve also championed in the past.

Typing Helps Us With Our Ideas

When it comes to writing – in the production sense – Thompson argues that typing wins out, no question. His basic argument is that a writer can’t get their thoughts out as fast by hand as they can with a lightspeed WPM.

Thompson cites a study that Australian scientists performed on struggling middle school students that shows that students that can type earn higher marks on their writing. The “bottleneck” between one’s ideas and their transcription becomes wider when the idea holder is typing it out.

Conclusion, Thoughts

Ultimately, Thompson concludes, there is no clear-cut winner in the debate between typing and writing. Each tool serves its user better under different circumstances. Thompson’s ultimate advice: Type as quickly as you can and always carry a pencil.

His advice makes sense, really. Personally, college is a recent experience and computerized note taking never did it for me – I quickly committed to my pencil and notebook.

On the other hand, one of the most prolific writers I know, whose writing schedule is full of unobtainable deadlines and even more unobtainable personal goals and ethics, types his notes into the URL bar of his browser because, according to him, the URL bar is the most immediate and uncensored medium for processing thoughts. Switching to his word processor, he says, robs the thought of its purity.

What do you think?

Weekly Discoveries 02.13.2015 – Snarky Puppy, New Blacklisted Album, Future’s Monster


Snarky Puppy

Snarky Puppy is an instrumental  jazz fusion band based in Brooklyn and is one of the funkiest groups I’ve heard in a long time. The core group is made up of about 18 musicians and several different instruments. They are known for performing and recording their albums live. In addition to writing and performing music, they perform as a production team and  session band for various individual artists and host workshops and clinics at colleges, high schools and middle schools around the world. Their latest album “we like it here” was recorded with a live audience  in Norway over the course of 4 nights. If you like music that will make you move be sure to check them out!

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Blacklisted – When People Grow, People Go

Few bands can satisfy my craving for fast-and-heavy music like Philadelphia’s Blacklisted. 2008’s Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God is one my top ten hardcore albums of all time and, while I appreciate the direction they tried with 2009’s No One Deserves To Be Here More Than Me, I’m glad the band’s first release in over five years has seen them return to their heavier roots. From the album’s first muted chord to its feedback-laden finale, When People Grow, People Go is aggressive, cohesive and heartfelt. It’s also the first album that’s made me want to move my feet in a long time. If you’re in the mood for some loud noises, give it a listen.

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Future – Monster (Mixtape)

Future was on top of the rap world this time last year. Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan quickly knocked him out of his seat in the Top Autotune Rapper chair – His second studio album, Honest, didn’t meet the massive hype that ushered it in when it came out this summer.  My problem with Honest is that the lavish, slow, emotional side is stellar (title track, “I Won,”) while the party-rap side is too weak.  Now Future’s back with Monster, and it seems like the pressure of a studio release is off and as a result the material’s more unhinged. Future really benefits from the mixtape format (see Pluto), and here he offers up 15 quality tracks and one unfortunate skit.  He’s rapping more adventurously and the party bangers are back. You have no excuse not to cop this and blast it at your next party.


Responsible, Sustainable Forestry at the Collins Almanor Forest

A few months back, I had the opportunity to explore the Collins Almanor Forest in Northern California. My guides were Collins Pine Company Forest Manager Jay Francis, longtime CalCedar employee (and one of the best storytellers I’ve ever met) Eric Prater, and Jay’s dog. We spent the better part of a morning walking through the groves near Mill Creek, California while Jay explained why Incense-cedar is the perfect wood for responsible, sustainable forestry and manufacturing.

Walking through the forest while learning about its history and how it’s being preserved was both calming and inspiring. Every Blackwing pencil starts as a Genuine Incense-cedar tree, and we’ve put together this short video to show why that’s a good thing for our pencils and our planet.


Weekly Discoveries 02.06.2015 – Birthright, The Sketchbook Project, Hard Book Habit, Skyline Motel



I picked up the first issue of this book based off a recommendation from a buddy at one of my regular comic shops. Written by Joshua Williamson and with pencils by Andrei Bressan, the opening pages of this book present the reader with some pretty heartbreaking stuff. The story begins with a child gone missing and the family fallout that unfolds over the course of a year as the father stands wrongly accused for the disappearance and presumed murder of his youngest son. The first issue has a great hook and some genuine surprises. Issue 5 released this week so I’ve got some catching up to do.

Birthright Issue 1

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Skyline Motel

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned since jumping into the music business is that great projects often include Ian Fitchuk. Ian is an incredible musician, singer, writer and producer. As Andrew Combs once told me, “It’s unusual NOT to see Ian whenever I walk into a studio.” It wasn’t until this week that I discovered Skyline Motel, a supergroup of sorts formed by Ian and some of the most accomplished songwriters in Nashville. Sarah Buxton, Kate York and Daniel Tashian fill out the quartet which is often joined by David LaBruyere (John Mayer) and one of my faves, Tom Bukovac. Bukovac is one of the best session guitarists in the world; a multi-time winner of the ACM guitarist of the year award.

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Hard Book Habit

I’m an active practicer of marginalia  when I read and find I’m more effective and focused in notating and recording my thoughts and key concepts when reading a printed book vs. using highlight or note function on my Kindle or iPad. This site Hard Book Habit by bibliophiles (and Blackwing fans) Sarah and Lucy ponder some of history’s greatest literary works.

Hard Book Habits

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The Sketchbook Project

While I was in New York, wandering through the streets of Williamsburg, I stumbled upon a sidewalk sign that read, in bold block letters, “Art Library.” “I love art libraries,” I thought as I strolled through the door, only to be greeted with one of the most inspiring and breathtaking collections of notebooks, sketchbooks and journals I’ve ever seen. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t heard of the Sketchbook Project before walking through the door of their Art Library and seeing the 30,000 plus volumes of their collection in person, but now I’m a lifelong fan. I even bought a sketchbook of my own so I can contribute to this growing, global collaborative art project.

 The Sketchbook Project